By Tammy Childress
Andy Curtis is a 30-year-old from Elizabethton with a passion for music. Curtis also has a heart for his community. So when Dr. Dan Schumaier, chairman, Tweetsie Trail Task Force, contacted Curtis and asked him to pen a theme song for the trail, Curtis quickly agreed.
“As a kid, I went to the Tweetsie Railroad Theme Park,” said Curtis. “I have great memories from there. I also knew some of the history of the train and where it went. I got a tune together and realized that there was a lot of factual stuff that needed to be written into the song. It’s not a song that could be written abstractly, like a love song. So I called Dan and asked him for a historical timeline of the trail. He sent me this huge packet of stuff and that’s how I came up with the verses. It was a lot of fun.”
Curtis understood that Schumaier was looking for something that sounded like the music of the region, while having a catchy hook. “I wanted to create a moment with this song when people don’t hit the ‘next’ button, but they hit ‘repeat’ and it will be the song that gets stuck in your head that you sing all day – and then hopefully it gets stuck in other people’s heads.”
To create that kind of song, said Curtis, he knew he’d need to call on some talented friends. “A lot of people came together quickly to make this happen,” said Curtis. Troy Whitson, owner, Sound Asylum Recording Studio, was the producer/engineer and played the bass. Aaron Jaxon, a former ETSU bluegrass student and lead vocalist/guitar player for the Aaron Jaxon Band, sang backup and played lead guitar. Ryan Viers played drums and Tony Dingus played the dobro.
“Another friend of mine, Clark Hohman, let me record the demo in his studio in south Florida,” added Curtis. “Without all these guys this wouldn’t have happened. That’s what’s cool about this whole thing. The essence is the giving, from the building of the trail to the fundraising, the media support; it’s something the community can be proud of. Something like this works when the community gets behind it and makes it work. Places like this don’t just exist everywhere all over the United States. There’s something about being in the mountains. There’s just something unique about the culture here. The prettiest country in the world is those 10 to 12 miles from Tennessee into western North Carolina. God didn’t make that everywhere.”
“My hope,” said Curtis, “is that people will think it’s a good song about our heritage and it will become synonymous with the trail, that it will become a local tune that everyone knows. It’s about the history of the trail and I think I was able to give them what they (the Rails to Trails Task Force) wanted.”
The song is available at andycurtis.me.